Plasma State of matter.
Let us learn about the plasma state of matter through an interview with the plasma state itself.
Interviewer: Hullo Plasma. How do you do? And what are you made up of?
Plasma: I am doing well. I am made up of ions and electrons.
Interviewer: Can you tell me something of how and when you were discovered?
Plasma: Well, it was the English scientist William Crookes, who found about me in 1879. He noted that plasmas are mixtures of particles and fields. The term "plasma" was initially applied to ionized gas. So in a nutshell, plasma is made of atoms. Atoms contain a balance of positive and negative charges, brought on by negatively-charges electrons moving around a positively-charges nucleus. Plasma occurs when this balance is set to heat, or another form of disruption. Ions and negatively charged electrons make plasma different from a solid, liquid or gas.
Interviewer: Where do we find plasma?
Plasma:You will be surprised to know that most matter in the universe is plasma. Of course you may not see it as often as you see solids, liquids or gases.Plasma is present in welding arcs, flourescent tubes. neon signs, plasma TVs, lightning, in the Sun and stars,in the mysterious auroras you see at the Poles and in comet tails.
Interviewer: So plasma is more likely to be found outside the Earth, you mean?
Plasma:In a way yes. That's because to form plasma , we need extremely high temperatures and these are naturally present in space. In the natural state, lightning is an example of plasma on Earth. Otherwise the other places you find plasma on the Earth are all man made cases.Scientists have constructed special chambers to experiment with plasma in laboratories.Plasma at low temperatures is hard to maintain because outside a vacuum low temperature plasma reacts rapidly with any molecules it encounters.
Interviewer: Could you tell me something about the special properties of plasma?
Plasma: Plasmas come in many varieties depending on their temperature and density. There are often so few plasma particles (ions and electrons) in a volume of space , that is to say their density is so low, that a spacecraft could fly right through them without damage – even though the temperature of the plasma is thousands of degrees.
The temperature of plamsa varies. Space plasmas can contain enough heat to melt the earth thousands of times over. Crystal plasmas can freeze the earth at least a hundred times.
Plasmas are influenced by electric and magnetic fields. Some plasmas (Earth’s ionosphere, for example) are also influenced by collisions but most are not.
Interviewer: What use can plasma be put to?
Plasma: Superconductors are being improved with information gained from plasma. A fusion reactor is being made which will use plasma to create a source of electric and magnetic energy. Plasma is heated, to produce an extremely volatile source of potential energy. It is hoped that plasma will eventually provide a boundless energy source for the solar system.Plasma is useful in medical applications because it sterilizes and cauterizes . Plasma rocket engines are being developed that can run on very simple fuels. There are other uses in industry to cut and melt and chemically alter materials.
Interviewer:Thanks for all this information.
Plasma: My pleasure. By the way if you want to know more about me, do meet me at http://www.chem4kids.com/files/matter_plasma.html